Down East 2013 ©
Photo courtesy of Jeff Cobb
Everyone ends up getting out on the water at some point during a Maine summer — even bears. For David Cobb, at right, whose family still runs Pierce Pond Camps north of Kingfield, a voyage on the pond with his friend Bruce Fraser, at left, was a slightly anxious affair when it involved transporting a hundred-pound black bear from one end to the other. Never mind that the ursine passenger was Amos, one of two cubs — the other was named Andrea — whom a Kingfield hunter had discovered in early 1959. The hunter, Dr. Burt Covert, had raised the pair with the intention of giving them to a zoo, but when no zoo would take the bears, and with brother and sister bruin becoming increasingly aggressive toward each other, Covert decided to set them free in August near Pierce Pond.
That’s when the Cobb boys met Amos and Andrea, as the two bears quickly learned that guests at the sporting camp left behind food scraps that were far more delectable than the local raspberries. Cars and garbage cans became frequent targets of their scavenging, and while adult guests regarded the cubs’ antics with reservation, children adored them. Just a few days later, though, Andrea made a grab for the lunch that a logger was eating beside his bulldozer, and the woodsman defended himself, sadly killing the bear. Attempting to keep Amos from a similar fate, the Cobbs transported Amos to an island in the middle of the lake, but the bear soon learned to swim to the mainland. What followed was a series of boat rides, one of which was captured in this remarkable photograph by David Cobb’s uncle, Larry Cobb, as the boys ferried Amos from location to location in an attempt to keep him away from vacationing sports. Unfortunately, the young bear became too comfortable on the water. “Every time a boat would go out there, he’d swim out and try to get in,” remarks Gary Cobb, who was eighteen at the time and still runs the camps. “He climbed into the boat of an old-time guest — who was prepared for it, I guess.” A short time later Floyd Cobb, the camps’ owner, found the wounded bear and put him out of his misery, tragically ending what had begun as a well-intentioned cub rescue and proving that, though baby animals might be cute, nature must always be allowed to run its course.